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Muslim Scholar: Don't Build Mosque at Ground Zero

"Where is your sense of fairness and common decency?"

A protester's sign at Ground Zero on September 11, 2010 (Photo: AP)

Appearing on CBS's "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," Muslim scholar Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, who's also the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a former U.S. Navy Officer, called on fellow Muslims to drop their bid to build a mosque just blocks from Ground Zero.

"It's time for Muslims to look less about promoting ourselves, [have] less of a victimology and [be] more about feeling the pain of the families of 9/11 and understanding what we have to do to repair the house of Islam," Jasser said this morning.

In his view, the plan to build the controversial mosque is about political gain more than anything else. Writing in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, he claims that "Imam Rauf and his supporters are clearly more interested in making a political statement in relation to Islam than in the mosque's potential for causing community division and pain to those who lost loved ones on 9/11."

He reiterated the difference between religious and political Islam this morning: "I think we're getting a crash course on Islam," Jasser said, "and we Muslims have to do more work to separate spiritual Islam of the faith we love from political Islam that creates the [accused Fort Hood gunman] Nidal Hasans ... and has a continuum from moderate to radical."

Taking a sharply critical tone over the last two days, Jasser has some strong words, and difficult questions, for those leading the charge behind the mosque.

"Where is your sense of fairness and common decency?" Jasser asked in his op-ed. In his eyes, those Muslims behind the mosque have forgotten who they are: "In relation to Ground Zero, I am an American first, a Muslim second, just as I would be at Concord, Gettysburg, Normandy Beach, Pearl Harbor or any other battlefield where my fellow countrymen lost their lives."

And according to Jasser, Rauf's continued commitment to the mosque and his politicization of the issue raises questions about his intentions: "Imam Rauf may not appear to the untrained eye to be an Islamist, but by making Ground Zero an Islamic rather than an American issue, and by failing to firmly condemn terrorist groups like Hamas, he shows his true allegiance."

For Jasser, those questions are exacerbated by Rauf's deceleration, in his book What's Right With Islam, that the Muslim Brotherhood's radical longtime spiritual leader Imam Yusuf Qaradawi is a "moderate."

In light of the 9/11 anniversary, Jasser also questions whether the mosque will aid or hamper counterterrorism efforts:

Imam, tell me if you can look into the eyes of children who lost a parent on 9/11 and convince them that this immodest Islamic center benefits them. How will it in any way aid counterterrorism efforts or keep one American any safer? You willfully ignore what American Muslims most need — an open call for reformation that unravels the bigoted and shoddy framework of political Islam and separates mosque and state.

He also said this morning that he "absolutely" doesn't think America has become Islama-phobic since 9/11, and he said Florida Pastor Terry Jones's one-time plan to burn Korans shows "complete disrespect."

One last thing…
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